Jennifer Derilo via Crowdrise
February 20, 2012
70,000 Americans between 15-39 are diagnosed with cancer each year. That's one every eight minutes. Cancer is now the #1 life-threatening disease among young adults.
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
I was part of that demographic on April 27, 2010 when I was diagnosed with Stage 2b Hodgkin's lymphoma. I was 32.
I first experienced symptoms when I still had a job and health insurance in the summer of 2009. My doctor at the time misdiagnosed me and suggested that I was developing adult-onset allergies. I was laid off in September 2009 and lost my insurance in December 2009.
I was denied emergency Medi-Cal because my cancer wasn't stage 4 or metastatic. After blowing through my savings to pay out-of-pocket expenses just to get diagnosed, I could finally prove that I needed emergency medical coverage (i.e. not insurance) through San Diego County. Only then was I able to get staged and begin chemo treatments.
I finished 6 cycles of ABVD chemotherapy in January 2011. I have been in remission since February 2011. I am now 34.
If you can believe it, I disovered two big truths:
- Facing cancer without health insurance was scarier than the diagnosis.
Moving into surviviorship has been more difficult than the treatments.
CELEBRATE LIFE, LOVE, COMMUNITY.
Before I discovered the "I'm Too Young For This!" Cancer Foundation, my initiation into this unknown territory, especially as a young adult, felt lonely. Even though I had a support system of caregivers and friends to carry me, the business of having cancer is quite solitary.
Survivorship as a young adult has its own unique challenges and, initially, left me feeling lonelier and even more misunderstood.
The "I'm Too Young For This!" Cancer Foundation connected me with other people who "got it". The bonding that happens with like-minded survivors and thrivers is unparalled. I wouldn't have found them without the monthly Stupid Cancer happy hour event with the local San Diego chapter or the annual OMG! Cancer Summit.
The OMG! Cancer Summit is the premiere oncology conference and social networking event for the young adult cancer movement. Now in it's 5th year, it has become a pivotal healthcare event that inspires thousands of survivors, cargivers and providers—along with scores of academic, advocacy, research and support organizations—to get organized, build community and unite as one to drive change.
RAISE AWARENESS WITH ME.
Join our team and support efforts to ensure that young adult survivors, like myself, get the chance to attend this event and participate in a life-affirming weekend of support, education, community, and hope.
Thank you for reading and spreading the word.
NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO FACE CANCER ALONE.